Community News

Chance Theater presents… “Tiny Beautiful Things”

by: Casey Long
Published: April 10, 2024


Jonathon Lamer, Jennifer Richardson, Aubrey Saverino, and Sam Mistry


ANAHEIM...Chance Theater, Anaheim’s official resident theater company, is thrilled to present the tender and moving stage adaptation of the globally beloved "Tiny Beautiful Things,” based on the book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos. Co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail, and Nia Vardalos. With direction by Katie Chidester (“Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess”), “Tiny Beautiful Things” will begin previews on April 5, 2024. This inspiring production will officially open on April 13 and captivate audiences until April 28, 2024 at the Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center on the Cripe Stage 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807 TICKETS: $8-$44 MORE INFO: or call (888) 455-4212.

Jennifer Richardson, Jonathon Lamer, Aubrey Saverino, and Sam Mistry 


Based on the real-life stories that inspired the best-selling book that launched the acclaimed Hulu series, “Tiny Beautiful Things” is a play rich with humor, insight, compassion – and absolute honesty. When Cheryl Strayed (author of the memoir Wild) agreed to take over an online advice column, she was still putting her life back together. What seemed like a part-time undertaking transformed into an enrapturing, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting journey. You will be forever changed after witnessing this unforgettable collection of true tales about reaching out when you’re stuck, recovering when you’re broken, and finding the courage to ask the questions that are the hardest to answer. Audiences should note that this play contains strong language, adult content, and other potentially triggering content.

The true story behind the book that inspired the play started in 2010. Author Cheryl Strayed was contacted by the advice columnist for The Rumpus, Steve Almond, to see if she would like to take over for him. She accepted and spent the next two years offering a wide range of advice under the pseudonym “Sugar” for no pay. Strayed made a commitment to her readers to always answer with complete honesty and would not hold back on sharing her own life experiences in raw detail – the good and the bad. Strayed said, “I’ve always written the column as if I were a naked woman standing in a field showing you everything but her face.”

Strayed would compile a collection of essays from her “Sugar” experience into the book, Tiny Beautiful Things, which was published in July 2012 and debuted at #5 on the New York Times Best Seller List in the “Advice and Self-Help” category.

 Jennifer Richarson, Jonathon Lamer, Aubrey Saverino, and Sam Mistry 


Then, years later, Tony-winning director Thomas Kail (“Hamilton”) gave a copy of the book to Oscar-nominated writer/actress Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) who read the whole book on a flight. Vardalos called Kail from the tarmac after she landed to say she wanted to turn it into a play. Written by Vardalos and directed by Kail, the stage version of “Tiny Beautiful Things” premiered at The Public Theater in December 2016. The production, starring Vardalos as Sugar, was a hit with critics and audiences, playing to sold-out audiences for its limited engagement (and brought back for an extended run engagement the following year).

The popularity of Strayed’s “Sugar” persona has persisted over the years and audiences can’t seem to get enough. In 2014, Strayed and original columnist Almond hosted the New York Times podcast “Dear Sugars” that would last for 4 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Strayed succumbed to reader demand and started a new podcast, “Sugar Calling.” The Hulu series based on Strayed’s novel premiered in April 2023 to acclaim, garnering many nominations for the show and its star, Kathryn Hahn.

Joining director Chidester on the design team are scenic designer Kristin Campbell Coyne (“Green Day’s American Idiot”), costume designer Gwen Sloan (“The Secret Garden, the Musical”), lighting designer Jordan “LJ” Curiel (“The Secret Garden, the Musical”), sound designer Darryl B. Hovis (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Chance Resident Artist), stage manager Bebe Herrera (“Ride the Cyclone,” Chance Resident Artist), and dramaturg Jocelyn L. Buckner (“Skylight”, Chance Resident Artist).

The cast of “Tiny Beautiful Things” features Aubrey Saverino (“Matinicus: The Story of Abigail Burgess” - OCTG Theatre Award nominee for Lead Performance) as Sugar, Jonathon Lamer (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) as Letter Writer #1, Jennifer Richardson (“Fun Home”) as Letter Writer #2, and Sam Mistry (Chance Debut) as Letter Writer #3.

Laurie Smits Staude is the Executive Producer for this production. Bette & Wylie Aitken are Executive Season Producers for the entire 2024 schedule. Susan Bowman & Freddie Greenfield and Linda Maggard are Associate Producers, and The Family of Mary Kay Fyda-Mar is this year’s Associate Season Producers. Our community partner is Radiant Futures, who will be co-hosting a Community Night at Chance Theater on Friday, April 19 starting at 7pm. Photos: CaseyLong


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